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"El Chapo" Press Conference in Brooklyn

Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is quite the rock star -- to the female inmates at MCC New York who repeatedly chanted out his name as he arrived in their midst.

The press conference this morning began with typical government hyperbole:

“In short, he is a man who has known no other life than one of crime, violence, death and destruction.”

The truth is that he is also a husband, father, and son who is loved by his mother, wife and children. He is someone who is respected, not just feared, in his part of Mexico.

Did the prosecutor mention when discussing that his "associates dug a tunnel from a home a mile away directly into his shower" that it would not have been possible but for corrupt jail and political officials, many of whom are now locked up? Without the corruption among Mexico's police, politicians and army, there would no cartels as vast as those that exist in Mexico. The drug lords are but a part of the equation.

The Government filed a 56 page brief in support of detention pending trial (no bail.) It's filled with photos of boats that big loads of drugs were seized from. [More...]

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Obama Commutes Chelsea Manning Sentence (And 200 Plus More)

President Obama has commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning. Manning will only have to serve four more months --She will be freed May 17.

Manning was one of 273 people granted clemency or pardons today, according to the White House.

His totals: 1,385 grants of clemency and 212 pardons.

With today’s 209 grants of commutation, the President has now commuted the sentences of 1,385 individuals – the most grants of commutation issued by any President in this nation’s history. President Obama’s 1,385 commutation grants – which includes 504 life sentences – is also more than the total number of commutations issued by the past 12 presidents combined. And with today’s 64 pardons, the President has now granted a total of 212 pardons.

That's what you call change. Thank you, President Obama. [More...]

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Charles Manson Hospitalized

Charles Manson, now 82, was taken to the hospital today from prison for undisclosed reasons. There are unconfirmed reports he suffers from some kind of gastro-intestinal issue. The prison says he is alive.

Manson's prison, Corcoran, has previously been found to have inadequate health care. The report is here. According to the spokeswoman for the Receiver for California Correctional Health Care Services:

The California State Prison, Corcoran, has medical facilities to treat inmates requiring urgent or emergency care as well as in-patient hospital stays.

“In general, inmates are sent to outside hospitals if they need surgical services, emergency care, or diagnostic services of an acute nature,” said Joyce Hayhoe, a spokeswoman for the federal receiver who controls prison medical care. “These services are not provided in state prison facilities.”

California's medical rules for prisons are here.

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CT Supreme Court Reinstate's Michael Skakel's Conviction

The Supreme Court of Connecticut has reinstated Michael Skakel's murder conviction. The conviction had been overturned on a habeas petition, with the lower court finding Skakel's attorney rendered ineffective assistance of counsel. The Supreme Court disagreed:

Because we conclude that the petitioner’s trial counsel rendered constitutionally adequate representation, we reverse the judgment of the habeas court and remand the case to that court with direction to render judgment denying the petition.

The Supreme Court said Skakel's attorney's representation was not deficient. Skakel served a decade in prison before being freed pending a new trial three years ago.

One justice dissented, and one justice partially agreed with the dissenting justice but in the end agreed with the majority that the conviction should stand.

The majority opinion is here. The dissenting opinion is here and the concurring opinion is here.

I'm sorry that Skakel's conviction will be reinstated, as I have never believed he is guilty of murdering Martha Moxley, but I also believe Mickey Sherman's representation was not ineffective. [More...]

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"El Mochomito" (Beltran-Guzman) Arrested in Jalisco

The Beltran-Leyva cartel took another big hit Friday with the arrest of "Mochomito" -- Alfredito Beltran-Guzman, son of Alfredo Beltran-Leyva, who is in custody in Washington, D.C. awaiting the imposition of sentence -- in Zapopan, Jalisco. He was reportedly arrested at a barber shop.

The Government alleges "El Mochomito" was behind the attacks on El Chapo's mother's house in June, and the kidnapping of El Chapo's sons at a restaurant in Puerta Vallarta in August. El Chapo is his uncle.

According the the Government's press release, he moved operations from Culiacan in Sinaloa to Guadalajara, where through intelligence work of the Drug Enforcement Division of the Federal Police, they determined where he was and arrested him and four others with no shots being fired. The statement was jointly issued by the Federal Police, the Ministry of the Navy, the Secretariat of National Defense, the Center for Investigation and National Security,and the Attorney General.[More...]

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Poland's Supreme Court Rejects Roman Polanski Extradition Request

Poland's Supreme Court has definitively rejected the U.S. request for extradition of Director Roman Polanski, now 83, for a crime that occurred in 1977.

Poland joins France and Switzerland as countries where Polanski can live and work, free from the shadow of extradition. France has no extradition treaty with the US and Switzerland has already rebuffed US attempts to have him extradited.

A lower court in Poland ruled in 2015 that "the time Polanski had spent in jail, under house arrest or in custody exceeded his original sentence, and that he may not get a fair trial in the US." [More...]

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Ohio State Stabbings

Earlier news reports of a shooter at Ohio State have been corrected. The assailant drove over the curb, intentionally hitting people with his car, and then got out and started stabbing people with a butcher knife. 8 or 9 people are hospitalized. The only gun used was the gun a police officer used to kill the suspect.

The dead suspect is a Somali-born student at Ohio State named Abdul Razak Ali Artan. He is a legal permanent resident who came to the U.S. in 2014 after living in Pakistan since 2007. In an interview in August, he said he was afraid for Muslims. [More...]

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John Hinckley Goes Home for Good After 35 Years

In 1981, at age 25, John Hinckley shot and wounded former President Ronald Reagan, his press secretary James Brady, a police officer and a member of the secret service. In 1982, after an 8 week trial, a jury found Hinckley not guilty by reason of insanity. He was placed in a mental hospital.

In 2003, after 19 years in the mental hospital, the Judge granted him unsupervised visits with his parents. He was then 48 years old.

In 2005, at age 50, he was allowed overnight visits at his parents' home .

In July, 2016, after 35 years at the mental hospital, the Court ordered him released on full-time convalescent leave (outpatient placement.) (The 103 page opinion is here.)

Today, John Hinckley went home for good to live with his now 90 year old mother in Williamsburg, VA. Hopefully, someone will give him a job, and someone will offer to be his friend. [More...]

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Kim Dotcom Extradition Appeal To Be Live-Streamed

Update: 8/30/16, 9:15 pm MT: Live stream started 1/2 hour ago here.

A New Zealand appeals court today began hearing the appeal of Kim Dotcom against extradition to the U.S. The hearing is expected to take six to eight weeks. Kim Dotcom has been requesting the hearing be live-streamed. Today, the court granted his request and live streaming begins tomorrow.

Justice Murray Gilbert granted the application, subject to agreement from Mr Dotcom and the other men that the case would only be livestreamed and any footage would be removed as soon as the six-week hearing was over. The footage would also be streamed with a 20 minute delay, to allow the court to prevent any suppressed material from being published.

Check Kim Dotcom's twitter feed, @kimdotcom, for the live stream link. Also check out Torrent Freak, which has been doing a good job of following the case all these years. [More...]

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Mexican Media Report El Chapo's Son Freed, Back in Sinaloa

Riodoce reported this morning it has confirmed that Alfredo Guzman-Salazar, son of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman-Loera and the other five men kidnapped at La Leche Restaurant in Puerto Vallarta have been freed and are back in Sinaloa. Alfredo and his brother Ivan Archivaldo reportedly are both there. According to Sinaloa Press, all six were released unharmed and El Chapo has been informed.

Sin Embargo and now almost all Mexican media, and the AFP, are reporting the same. La Pared reports no additional details are being provided because of the pending extradition request from the U.S. for both sons:

Neither the Attorney General's Office or the Office of Jalisco have issued information regarding the release of the imprisoned son of Sinaloa cartel leader, but a source of the Sinaloa Attorney mentioned that there are indications that the release is correct.

"It is information that can not be confirmed because this person is a fugitive, there are only reports was released by his captors," said the source.

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6 Bodies Found in Jalisco, None Believed to Be El Chapo's Son

6 bodies were found today in several locations in towns around Guadalajara in the state of Jalisco.

In the El Mirador, in Tonala, police authorities placed the bodies of three men between 25 and 30 years. The first two victims were found inside a vacant lot and another in a gap in the same area. The dead showed signs of torture and gunshot wound.

In Tlajomulco de Zuniga, in the La Teja ranch, the gap La Cajilota, were located the bodies of two people "you encobijadas", one of them apparently female. Another body of a "encobijado" was found in Dr. R. Michel Avenue and Stadium; near the body of the authorities assured a card with a chilling message that further details were not given.

Puerta Vallarta, where 6 men, including Alfredo Guzman-Salazar, the son of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, were kidnapped from La Leche restaurant this week, allegedly by rival cartel CJNG, is also in Jalisco.

The Attorney General of Jalisco says that as of now there is no indication the dead bodies discovered today are related to those kidnapped in Puerta Vallarta. [More...]

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El Chapo's Son: Kidnapped in Puerta Vallarta or Not?

It's amazing how bad some news reports are. They just publish without fact-checking. Memo to the AP, AFP and Australia News and other news outlets: This photo is not Alfredo Guzman-Salazar or any son of El Chapo. It's a nobody 23 year old used car salesman named Felix Beltran Leon that police mistook for Alfredo in 2012

The stocky, baby-faced suspect had been presented as the son of Guzman, the chief of the Sinaloa Cartel, and a Navy official described him as a rising operator in the international drug trafficking organization. But Beltran Leon's wife, Karla Pacheco, said he is the father of a toddler and works with his mother-in-law at a used car dealership.

The Attorney General's Office said that "necessary tests" had proved that he wasn't the drug lord's son, but said he would remain under investigation for the guns and money found during his arrest.

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Cameron Douglas Released to Halfway House

It's been a long 7 years for Cameron Douglas, son of actor Michael Douglas. This week the former heroin addict and meth seller was released from federal prison to a half-way house.

He looks in much better shape than he did at the time of his original arrest in 2009.

In 2012, Cameron was badly hurt in prison. In 2011 and 2012, I provided a lengthy recap of his legal troubles from court pleadings available at the time here and here. In 2010, I wrote about the sentencing pleadings and very candid family letters and provided a recap of events . Posts about his 2009 arrest and release on bail are here and here.

I took all of the information in the posts from publicly available pleadings, not just in his case, but in the cases of the Escalera brothers, against whom he testified. All of my posts on his case are accessible here.

Here's a letter Cameron wrote from prison in 2013. According to the Page 6 article, he's planning on writing a book of his experiences.

The Bureau of Prisons failed Douglas in my view. He more than did his time, under very harsh conditions. I wish him and his family well.

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El Proceso Scores Interview with Rafael Caro Quintero

The DEA and Mexico (at the request of the U.S.) have been trying to find Rafael Caro-Quintero since 2013, when Mexico released him from prison after serving 28 years of a 40 year sentence, following a court decision later reversed.

I doubt they had a clue where he is. And I wonder if they haven't just used an old trick on him: Accuse him of something he hasn't done so he surfaces to make a denial. If so, it worked, because El Proceso will broadcast an interview with Caro Quintero from an undisclosed location today -- his first since his 2013 release from prison. [More...]

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Oscar Pistorius Sentenced to 6 More Years

Oscar Pistorius is back in jail today, sentenced to 6 years following last month's re-sentencing hearing which was the result of the state winning an appeal over the judge's decision to toss the murder charge.

The judge said there were mitigating factors and rejected a prosecution request for a 15 year sentence. He will be eligible for parole in 3 years.

One mitigating factor:

Mr. Pistorius, the judge said, had shown genuine remorse in trying, repeatedly and unsuccessfully, to apologize in person to the victim’s parents.

There were others, and the Judge recognized that a long term of imprisonment would not be in the best interests of justice. [More...]

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